Collector Profile: Desi Scarpone – board game collector and proud owner of the Great Garloo (among other things)

Desi Scarpone works in the Motion Picture Industry in Los Angeles, and he has a serious collecting habit. Desi is the leading expert on vintage board game collecting, and has written two books on the subject. I asked him a few questions about his collections, and here is what he had to say…

How did your collection start? What was the first item in your collection?

Like you, I’ve always collected things, even as a child.  My Uncle Aldo was a big collector, and I guess it’s in my genes.  As a child, I remember having to get every single Aurora Monster model made, and my Mom would drive me to the local Fedmart so I could spend my lawn cutting, baby sitting or allowance money to get the latest one.  Nowadays, I guess my focus is on board games (which I had a lot of growing up).  My collection probably started  many years later, when I was married, and I happened to be on location working on a TV show.  I visited a local shop to pass the time and came upon TIP-IT, a board game I remembered as a child.  It was a modern re-issue, but it was fun to play.  Then, months later, I happened to be at a flea market and came across the ORIGINAL version of TIP-IT from 1965…It looked so different and was so cool, and since it only cost a dollar, I bought it.  From then on, I was hooked on finding games from my childhood, and eventually, vintage board games in general.

How many items are in your collection?

I have approximately 6,000 games at the present time…

Do you have a favorite item in your collection?

They’re all my children (isn’t that sick?), but I’ll admit my favorites are games like VOICE OF THE MUMMY, ELVIS PRESLEY “YOUNG AT HEART” GAME, and any of the Hasbro “Mystery” games, like THE MUMMY, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, or PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

How do you store/display your collection?

Unfortunately, most of my game collection is in storage, but I keep the most visually interesting nearby…They make me happy.  I have a big pegboard that I mounted on the wall, and inserted metal pegs in strategic places to support the games.  That way, my entire wall becomes a piece of art!

Is there a “holy grail” item that you would love to add to your collection?

I’m getting a little nervous that most of the “holy grails” I’ve been pursuing, I’ve found, and I’m beginning to run out of things to lust after.  Besides the ridiculously rare ELVIS PRESLEY GAME, I’ve recently acquired JATI, one of the rarest of 3M games, and one of the all-around rarest games.  At this point, I guess I really wish I could find an original “Trademark” or “Patent Pending” MONOPOLY game, or Darrow version.  There’ll always be something I want, but unfortunately I can’t afford to pay a lot, so I have to wait for that rare convergence of availability and low price.

Do you collect other things?

Unfortunately, I collect a LOT of different things… I have over 10,000 records (33rpm, 45rpm and 78rpm), I have lots of vintage paperbacks, magazines, monster models, banks, ceramic figures, Santa figures and Christmas trees, halloween costumes, road race sets, first edition books, coins, stamps, vinyl figures…I have an extremely large collection of vintage Disneyana, vintage toys, battery operated toys, “big plastic” toys like THE GREAT GARLOO and ROBOT COMMANDO… I collect vintage cars, but I’m down to one 1965 Corvair Corsa Turbo convertible…. Mostly I collect what interests me, and what I find visually appealing.  When I write it all down like this, it kind of scares me.

Do you have a favorite collecting story or experience?

Usually they all revolve around finding something rare very cheap…I found almost all my monster models at the same place, same time very cheaply.  I found a very rare Bob’s Big Boy ashtray at a garage sale (no BBB collector has seen it before).  I guess I can share a BAD collecting experience.  Growing up, I collected Comic Books, and I had a large collection.  As I got older, I was pressured by my Mom and girlfriend to sell them, and “be a man”.  I eventually relented, sold them, and bought a car…I had entire runs of Fantastic Four #1 through date, X-Men #1 (mint) through date, etc…If I had them now, I could have bought a freaking HOUSE.  The point is, I didn’t want to sell them, I had no reason to sell them…Because of this, I’m pretty resistant to pressure to sell my collection now.

Do you have any advice for new collectors who are just starting a collection?

For me it’s always been about the thrill of the hunt…I love going to swap meets and finding the rare jewel, or even collectible shows (when they still had them) and finding something cheap and desirable that others had missed.  I’m not sure if it’s a competitive thing (as I certainly wasn’t competing against anyone)…It was just fun.  One piece of advice I would pass on that was offered to me was, go slowly… It’s very easy, especially now with Ebay, to go crazy and buy everything and anything… But it’s better to use restraint, and your finances will thank you for it.  Collect what you like, but if I were you, I’d keep an eye to re-sale value as well.  While it’s true that if you can buy the best and mint-est examples of things, there’s a pretty big (and growing) market for lesser condition items.  I’ll often buy something in pretty rough shape just to get it in my collection, and upgrade later when I find a better one.  Then I sell the rough one to you!

____________

Desi Scarpone has written two books on Board Games, both published by Schiffer Books. The first one is called BOARD GAMES, the second one is cleverly called MORE BOARD GAMES. Both have thousands of color photos of games, along with brief descriptions and prices.  The first book has been re-issued with updated prices.  You can order them here:

http://www.schifferbooks.com/newschiffer/book_template.php?isbn=0764320327

http://www.schifferbooks.com/newschiffer/book_template.php?isbn=0764311611

He also has a board games website that’s pretty fun.  There’s lots to go through there, and he even sells some of his duplicate games, toys, and board game magnets on the site:

http://4gamesgoneby.com/

Comments

  1. Danny Camp says

    I have a board game I cannot find anything about perhaps you have one or know the rariety of this one. It’s a Milton Bradley, Baseball for little leaguers and their fathers. any info would be great thanks, Danny

  2. Crystal LaFon says

    I have four board games that I would like to get the value on and then try to sell to a nice new owner who will appreciate them. Email me for pics. I have Monopoly 1961 with the little playing tokens. Life 1960 with a logo on the front saying “I heartily endorse this game. Signed Art Linkletter. Parcheesi 1975 (no.2 im guessing that it was second in production for that year) with all the dice and cups for each player. the tokens are wooden. Mint condition except the outside of box from age. Then I have a game I am not to familiar with. I am guessing it is pre scrabble. Keywords 1953 with wooden tiles like the original dominoes were.
    I would really appreciate some input from anyone. Thanks Crystal

  3. Alex Gourd says

    I have a 1935 custom game set in a custom case the case is worn, but the games are in
    very good condition some appear not used. It has 10 games all intact except the bingo set
    which is missing B1, B10, N45, O62 and the sheet to put the tabs on.the rest are all there.
    It has a full deck of cards in very good shape hardly ever used, the edges are not worn and
    it is dated 1935. Some games donot have who made them, just genric. It has Ivory dice,
    a full in excellent condition 1930 John Samules Rolluck chance game with instuctions,
    a horse race game with a special roll pice with instructions,a wooden chess set all pteces
    show no wear with card board playing board In very good shape no tears in seam and
    more. I am going to put it on Ebay. Ever heard of such a type set? It appears to be custom.

  4. David W says

    Amazing collections — and cool!

    I have a 1953 Deluxe Scrabble game made by Brunot’s Production and Manufacturing Co. It has 100 white plastic pieces and 4 black plastic racks (still wrapped in light white cloth, with holes for pegs to keeping score (patent pending underneath.) It is all a red leatherette carrying case – the name Scrabble is on the inside…. The whole thing is still wrapped in the original cardboard shipping box. It includes a rulebook and pegs wrapped in a small plastic bag. I’ve yet to see one of these anywhere.

    What I know about the Deluxe Scrabble is that it sold for 10.00 in 1953 and Brunot continued to make these himself even after passing on the manufacturing of the cheaper sets to S & R…

    Have you seen any of these around?

  5. Barb A says

    I have a “Deluxe Edition Scrabble” game. It is in a blue/gray box and the board has raised edges around the squares to hold the tiles in place. I would like to purchase another but cannot find one any where internet or otherwise. The copywright says 1948 & 1954 by Production And Manufacturing Company. Was this a special edition? Most older vintage Scrabble games come in the red box. What is it worth?

  6. KENNY GROOM says

    I HAVE A 1935 MONOPOLY GAME WITH EVERTHING THERE NOT MISSING A THING JUST WANTED TO KNOW IF IT MIGHT HAVE ANY VALUE AT ALL IF SO I LIKE TO KNOW CAN YOU HELP ME EVERYONE I TELL SAY WOW ITS WORTH SOMETHING THANKS FOR YOUR TIME

  7. says

    1965 Corvair Corsa. the first new one we purchased. Dark green. Funny story I was pretty young and driving on a NJ highway when a cop pulled me over. Racking my brain. What did I do, not speeding, no red lights. He wanted to know what we thought of the car and wanted a closer look at it.

  8. Bob jankowski says

    I have a1936 first edition gold monopoly game, with large fine tokens and also has metal money,,I want to know more about it and how much it’s worth, I’ve had it for about 27 years and I can’t find any info, some say it’s 1938, please reply. Bob J

  9. Dee says

    I have a 1953 red #6 Monopoly Game. All pieces there except the die. Wondered what it could be worth. Do you know?

  10. says

    I am looking for a game that has monster cards and four long hands. The object of the game is to match the monster to the machine that changes to different monsters at the press of a button. It would be a late 80’s or early 90’s game.

  11. John Nelson says

    My father recently passed away and has an extensive board game collection.
    approximatley 110 games. most in great condition, some never opened, very few in just ok condition. in the collection are War Garmes, Avalon Hill, SPI, OSG, Nova Game Designs, Battle Line Publications, Pacesetter, TSR, and the list goes on. Game from the early 1960’s to present (most are pre 1990’s). I am looking to sell as one collection, if possible. John – tjnelson@gci.net

  12. Isabelle says

    I have a 1936 pat. pending Blocko game screen by Cooney mfg by Empire Shield Co in NY. It seems to be in pretty good condition but I don’t know what is supposed to go with it ad i can’t find anything about it online. Any ideas or suggestions on a value or an other information. I am looking to sell it. Thanks — Isabelle

  13. L. Miller says

    See my Pat. Pending 1935 Monoply Game on Ebay…….Another week left for bidding.
    We don’t think the game was ever used.

  14. S.Salas says

    Hello, I have a board game that I can not find any information about online nor has anyone I know ever heard of it. I was wondering if you by chance have heard of this game. It is called LOG TRUCK’N Highballers Highway to Heaven. It was made in 1980 I believe. Designed by K.L.Forrester, Text by Cleatus C Roberts, Art by Forrest-Hen Creations. I also have another board game by Cleatus C Roberts that was made in 1977 called TIMBER Logger’s Woes to Riches. By chance, have you ever heard of either of these games?

  15. Ally says

    I just posted a comment but I wanted to give an alternate e-mail as well. I have an Elvis Presley board game. The box is white hard plastic and in the shape of his name. Used but in really good condition. The playing board is a guitar and the cards are records and gold records. If anyone has any info please advise. Thank you !!

  16. says

    I have many game boards, Auburn Rubber toys and misclaneous antiques toy that my ex-wife and I collected. We have been divorced 15 years and no longer wish to keep the toys. Are you interested buying them. i would gladly send you pictures of the toys.

    Thanks
    David

  17. Rhonda says

    Hello. My brother and I are attempting to recall a game we played as kids. It would be from the 60s or 70s. All we can recall is a chicken is laying an egg. We do not believe it is “Lay an Egg” by Parker Brothers. It was a board game with a battery operated chicken in the middle with a distinct clucking when the hen layed her eggs. Does anyone know the name of this game? Thanks!

  18. Lisa says

    I have a the 1965 edition of Go to the Head of the Class board game. We got it for 50 cents at a garage sale. It has all the pieces and is in perfect shape. The questions in the book are amazing bit of history in regards to what was popular at that time. What would this game be worth today?

  19. Kay says

    In general, with vintage board games, if I’m missing ONE of the playing pieces, you know the generic moving pieces usually in red,yellow,green,white etc, does it devalue the game if I replace them with something around the same size?? Would a collector even know?

  20. Kate says

    Hi there. I’m so happy to have found this site! Recently, I acquired a vitage Rebound game in the box. The interesting thing is that, rather than being the typical yellow color, or even the rare early orange color, the board is dark tan/light brown. I have not been able to find any information on tan Rebound boards. Have you ever heard of this? Is it a very early/rare version of the game? Thanks!

  21. mike sheppard says

    hello , Here’s a vintage rare game a 1962 “RIDE THE WILD SURF” This a John Severson (surfer mag) game made in Newport Beach by Aqua Games. Comes with a full color board, vintage actual surf photo’s and a glossery of surfer terms that are used in the game. I have over 60 vintage board games , all from the 1940’s to the late 1960’s and looking to sell them. e-mail me at meshepp55@gmail.com

  22. john venuto says

    i noticed you have a copy of the dale carnegie game win friends and influence people … i recently bought a copy of this game and would like some information about it

  23. Kathy says

    Hello, I need help! I just purchased “Timber” the loggers woes to riches board game. I came as never used and still had the plastic wrap intact on the game box. When I opened it there were no directions or the 8 page playing pamphlet inside. Do you know anywhere I might get a copy of game play. My husband logged all over the west coast and Alaska, so now the grand kids are dying to play this game with him. Thanks you for any help or suggestions. Regards Kathy

  24. Luann S. Corkins says

    I found a roclluck game in box with instructions and all pieces are there, what would that me worth?

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